Microsoft Edge. You might remember it as the promising successor to Internet Explorer, one that was supposed to compete with giants like Google Chrome. But with every new update, it seems like Microsoft is going down the same path as its competitors, prioritizing corporate interests over user privacy.
A recent development has put Microsoft Edge under the microscope again. This time, it’s the built-in image enhancement tool that’s causing concern1.
The Image Enhancement Feature: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Imagine every image you view on Edge being sent to Microsoft. Yes, you heard that right. Your personal, private browsing experience isn’t as private as you might have thought.
The image enhancement tool is designed to use “super-resolution” to improve the clarity, sharpness, lighting, and contrast of images on the web. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, there’s a catch. The tool sends links of the images you view to Microsoft for processing and enhancement, and it’s enabled by default1.
A Pattern of Disregard for Privacy
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has been caught red-handed. Not long ago, Microsoft Edge was found to be leaking the URLs of nearly every page you navigate to its Bing API site. It was part of a poorly implemented new feature called the “creator follow” feature, enabled by default, that sent nearly every domain you visit to Bing2.
To make matters worse, Microsoft never clearly explained why URLs were being sent to Bing or how Edge was configured to send nearly all of the sites you visit over to Bing2. This lack of transparency is concerning, to say the least.
Digital Privacy: A Right or a Privilege?
In this day and age, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hold onto our digital privacy. The problem isn’t isolated to Microsoft Edge or Bing. It’s a wider issue that involves many other internet browsers and big tech corporations.
Remember Google Chrome, the browser Microsoft Edge was supposed to compete with? They’ve been in their fair share of privacy scandals too. From tracking users in incognito mode to collecting data from free Chromebook users, Google isn’t exactly a paragon of privacy either.
Take Back Your Privacy
If you value your privacy, and I’m sure you do, there are steps you can take. It’s time to reclaim what’s rightfully yours.
Here’s how to disable the image sharing feature in Edge:
- Launch Microsoft Edge
- Open the main menu then ‘Settings’
- Open ‘Privacy, Search, and Services’
- Scroll down and toggle off ‘Enhance images in Microsoft Edge’
Privacy shouldn’t be an optional extra. It should be a fundamental part of the user experience, deeply ingrained in the design of every tool we use.
It’s time for us to demand better from tech companies, and it starts with us taking control of our privacy.